BENGALURU: One meeting with Suchi Govindarajan is enough to tell you that this Bengalurean loves birds and wildlife. Dressed in a floral outfit, her ears are adorned with a pair of bulbul earrings, which, she points out, are actually “Himalayan bulbuls.” Given her love for avian creatures, it comes as no surprise then that Govindarajan’s book, her debut one, is a children’s book called Why Don’t Birds Comb Their Hair? Since travel and nature are recurrent themes in this writer’s works, she was all too keen to pen a children’s book on wildlife when Pratham Books approached her.
“The idea was to come out with a fun and silly book that children could also learn from,” says Govindarajan, who decided to focus on different crested birds. The book has her making quirky observations about each of the selected eight birds’ crests, such as comparing the bulbuls to a wave, hoopoes, to a frilly fan, spoonbill, to an old paintbrush, monals, to a tiny broom and so on. “Growing up, I always had trouble getting my thick wavy hair to behave. So in a way, this booklet me relive my childhood, which is one of the good parts about writing a book for children,” says the 43-year-old, whose love for birds was inherited from her mother.
Writing for the book began in 2018, with Govindarajan working on at least four drafts before the book was published online in 2019, and released in print earlier this year. “It’s very exciting to be able to hold my book in physical form,” she says, adding, “More and more people have been reaching out to me ever since this happened.” Calling birds an “accessible form of wildlife”, she says work for this book, which was illustrated by Anjora Noronha and edited by Yamini Vijayan and Radha Rangarajan, involved many fun conversations like what a human would do with their hair if they had similar hairstyles like the ones sported by these birds.
“The current climate scenario has definitely left me with some underlying worries about floods, cyclones and storms. But I’ve found that humour is a good way to deal with it,” says the author who studied in various schools, thanks to her father’s transferable job with public sector banks, before eventually settling in Bengaluru.
With a part-time job as a technical writer for an Australian company, Govindarajan found that writing at night worked best for this book. “Word choice is very important while writing a children’s book,” she says, adding that she paid special attention to the language she used so that the book could lend itself easily to translated versions. While feedback and reviews from people have been plenty, nothing leaves her happier than what children have to say. “They often find the book silly, and that for me, is great because that means they are enjoying the book.”